Stalking In the Workplace
|According to current statistics from the United States Labor
Department, murder is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, and one of
the top causes of death for men. Many of these deaths are the result of stalking. Studies
have found that one in every six violent crimes in America occurs in the workplace,
accounting for approximately 1 million crimes a year. But multiplying the danger of this
problem is the fact that stalking victims on the job is a fairly new problem for United
States businesses. Consequently, many managers and supervisors don't know how to respond
to the danger, and may not afford the victim the understanding and protection they need.
However, top executives are finally beginning to recognize the seriousness of the problem.
Workplace violence was ranked as the number one concern of executives of America's Fortune
According to Sue Meisinger, Executive Vice President of the Society for Human Resource Management, "people don't check their problems at the front door." Victims of stalking need the cooperation of their employer. Experts on personnel management say many companies stubbornly refuse to think their employees could be in danger. Unfortunately, many employers still view stalking as a personal problem not a problem the company should be involved in.
Although 15% of workplace homicides are a direct result of stalking, business consultants say that most companies train their managers to avoid sexual harassment, but very few offer training on avoiding workplace violence, specifically stalking.
For many employed stalking victims, the worry is no longer whether they will keep their jobs or be laid off, but rather whether or not they will be killed on the job by a stalker. Many victims state they are reluctant to speak with managers and co-workers about their stalking out of embarrassment and fear. Employers need to understand that stalking is something that the victim has no control over.
If you are a victim don't be afraid to inform your manager. We're talking about your life and the life of other co-workers if your stalker goes off the deep end. Obtain as much information as possible on stalking and share it with your manager, co-workers, and security personnel.
The very real danger for many stalking victims is that often fellow employees of the victim seem unaware of the dangers of stalking, particularly receptionists and others responsible for entry into a business. It is very import for the victim to notify his/her manager as to what is going on. As a victim, don't hold back - let your co-workers know. Show photos if possible; give a description of your stalker, the car he/she drives, any information that may be helpful in identifying your stalker.
Have someone walk you to your car, screen your phone calls and people that come to your office to meet with you.
If a co-worker receives a call from your stalker or if your stalker has been seen driving around your place of employment have them report it immediately to you and document, document, document.
If you have a valid restraining order prohibiting your stalker from contacting you or being around your place of employment, call your local police department immediately and file a report.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COPY OF YOUR RESTRAINING ORDER ON FILE WITH YOUR EMPLOYER.
Don't be afraid to educate your company on stalking. The more your company understands stalking the better protection you and your fellow employees will have.
Following is a true story of what can happen.
If your company does not have a Threat Management Program in place, the following can be used as an example:
THREAT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Nothing is more important to XYZ, Company than the safety and security of its personnel. Threats, threatening behavior or acts of violence against employees, visitors, guests or other individuals by anyone on XYZ property will not be tolerated.
XYZ is committed to providing its employees with a safe and secure workplace. Additionally, in order to maintain our competitive edge, XYZ is equally committed to maintaining an environment in which each employee can achieve fulfillment and growth through work-related challenge and accomplishment. Elimination of or dealing with any harm or threat of harm to XYZ personnel furthers this important objective.
1.1 Any person who makes substantial threats, exhibits threatening behavior or engages in violent acts on XYZ property (or at any XYZ location) shall be removed from the premises as quickly as safety permits. Said person shall remain off XYZ premises pending the outcome of an investigation. Should investigation substantiate that violations of this policy have occurred, XYZ will initiate a decisive and appropriate response. This response may include, but is not limited to, suspension or termination of any business relationship, re-assignment of job duties, suspension or termination of employment, and/or seeking arrest and prosecution of the person or persons involved.
1.2 Decisions shall be to prevent (a) a threat from being carried out (b) a violent act from occurring, or (c) a life threatening situation from developing. When appropriate, law enforcement assistance may be requested.
2. Reporting Requirements
2.1 All XYZ personnel are responsible for notifying their cognizant security officer (CSO) of any threats that they may have witnessed, received or been told that another person has witnessed or received. Even without an actual threat, personnel should also alert their CSO to any behavior that they have witnessed which they regard as threatening or violent, when that behavior is job related or might be carried out on a company controlled site or is connected to company employment. Employees are responsible for making this report regardless of the nature of the relationship between the individual who initiated the threat or threatening behavior and the person or persons who were threatened or were the focus of the threatening behavior.
2.2 XYZ cannot accomplish its goal of providing a safe and secure workplace unless management is informed about individuals who have been ordered by the courts or other legally constituted entities to remain away from XYZ company locations or any XYZ employee. Accordingly, all individuals who apply for a protective or restraining order which lists company locations as being protected areas or names a XYZ employee as being protected, should provide their CSO a copy of the petition and declarations used to seek the order, a copy of any temporary protective or restraining order which is granted, and a copy of any protective or restraining order which is made permanent.
2.3 XYZ understands the sensitivity of the information to be provided and has developed confidentiality procedures to protect the privacy of the reporting employee(s) to the extent reasonably possible.
3. Incident Response
3.1 Upon receipt of an initial report of any threats or incidents of violent behavior, the CSO will take steps to verify the information, make an initial assessment and document any decision involving further action. The CSO will also enter the information into a database for future retrieval and trend analysis. Such information shall be considered XYZ Private and disseminated within the Company only on a need-to-know basis.
3.2 After initial assessment and verification of a threat or act of violence, the CSO will verbally advise the Companys Incident Management Team (IMT) of the incident. The IMT shall be comprised of a senior Human Resources manager, a senior line manager, the Director of Corporate Security, and the Division Counsel. The IMT may engage outside consultants as required. It is the responsibility of the IMT to decide what further actions are to be taken.
3.3 The CSO receiving the initial report will document all decisions made by the IMT and act as the scribe for the particular case at hand as described in 3.1 above. All such documentation will be retained or destroyed at the direction of the Director of Corporate Security.
3.4 The CSO will serve as the point of contact for any involved employee and for local management.
4. Training and Education
4.1 It is the responsibility of the Corporate Security organization to provide training and education to XYZ managers and employees regarding the Threat Management Program.
Sunday, April 9, 2000 - Tribune
INJUNCTIONS AGAINST HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE ARE AVAILABLE IN ARIZONA
Law Gives Employers Help In Keeping Workplace Safe
Employment lawyer Julie Pace tells a disturbing account of a worker's misadventures at a Phoenix construction firm last year. The man developed a bad attitude and began yelling at his coworkers. His rantings developed into threats. The company fired him.
Months later, the construction worker filed a worker's compensation claim against the company. During a meeting with his attorney, he said he planned to buy a shotgun, kiss his children goodbye and shoot his former bosses and co-workers.
The lawyer warned the construction company executives, who sought a restraining order against the workman. However, they discovered the legal process was slow, cumbersome and expensive, Pace said. For example, they had to document a series of threatening actions by the man. "That's kind of silly, isn't it? If someone threatens to come and blow you up, you can't get an injunction at that point. He has to say it twice," Pace said. "That's how it works under the current law. We changed that."
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Phoenix Metro Human Resource Association guided passage of a new law that allows employers to get quick and cheap injunction for workplace harassment.
Gov. Jane Hull signed the measure March 30 and it's slated to be enacted January 1. It will enable employers to obtain same-day injunctions for as little as $5 by filing a short statement with a magistrate or justice of the peace. "It provides a quick and efficient way for a employer to get some protection if they feel their workplace is being threatened," said attorney Catharine Ellingsen, a board member of the HR association. "An employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace." Even with the new quickie injunction, employers are required to provide reasonable evidence of harassment. Furthermore, people named on the injunctions can demand hearings to have the orders modified or dropped. The existing process for similar legal action require attorney's fees, 12 to 15 pages of documents and days or weeks to process.
"Between the threat and the time it takes to get a temporary restraining order, you've got a real problem," said Pace, a co-chairwoman of the Chamber's Employment Relations Committee.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tabulated 1,103 assorted on-the-job shooting, stabbings, bombings and other assaults in 1997 alone. The death count reached 856.
The quickie injunctions are designed to bar hotheads from being near entire places of employment, which protects all employees and customers at those businesses. Existing measures merely bar them from being near certain individuals. Injunctions have a sobering effect on most people, Pace said. "They say, This isn't worth it. It's gotten to the point that I've got to make some decisions. I may be mad, but do I really want to end up in jail tomorrow?" It does work. It calms them down," she said.
The new law is not envisioned as the first or best step to curb workplace harassment and violence, said chamber vice president Samantha Fearn. In fact, sometimes injunctions can back-fire and escalate problems. Each problem needs to be evaluated individually. "It is a tool in a box of tools an employer can use," she said.